A shallow exercise in self-congratulation, victim-blaming, and denial

Playing at Poverty at Resist Racism.

A classic example of unexamined privilege in a “social experiment” about “starting from scratch” being held up as a morality tale against social security. This is a fantastic post: read it.

*title from Kai’s comment

[via Unapologetic Female]

Categories: culture wars, economics, ethics & philosophy, skepticism, social justice

Tags: , ,

8 replies

  1. Very interesting. This reminds me of Bryce Courteney’s novel Matthew Flinders’ Cat. It’s not an amazing novel in and of itself, but one thing it does really well is its examination of the way that white and class privilege operate even for the homeless. The story is about an alcoholic QC who ended up becoming homeless, and while the details of his situation are horrific, Courteney certainly makes it clear that a good part of what allows the protagonist to eventually get out of his situation is his whiteness and his education, both of which mean that other people are more likely to give him a chance. The writing may be clunky, but it certainly does a good job of making hidden privileges explicit.

  2. Just to make it clear– I’m well aware that the person in this “social experiment” was doing the opposite, in refusing to examine his privilege: it’s just that reading that post brought the Courteney novel to mind.

  3. Oh, that bloke is a twerp of extreme proportions. The article you link to lists several of his privileges, but there are more – literacy, citizenship, not being on the run from an abuser, and no family/caring responsibilities also spring to mind.
    Lauredhel’s last blog post..Re-victimisation for fun and profit: more Goliath, less David

  4. Also apparently Able bodied and not suffering from mental health issues or a developmental disorder.

  5. I neglected to hat-tip Tracey at Unapologetic Female for the link. I’ve updated the post accordingly.
    I thought the most telling example of his privilege in the story was where he threatened to report an employer for exploitative behaviour in the full confidence that his charges would be taken seriously.
    Try that without the confident glow of athletic good health, without the education to know the law, and without an educated vocabulary.

  6. That was definitely telling. Then there was the teeny detail that he terminated his “experiment” when a relative got sick, then labelled it all a “success”.

  7. Let’s see – white; male; young; educated; middle-class (if not upper-middle) family; not addicted to drugs or alcohol; no dependent children; not estranged from his family; not living in a different city, state or country from his family safety net; sane; not requiring daily medication of any kind; able-bodied; articulate; well-socialised. Yeah, people like that should be able to get out “from scratch”. This is probably why you don’t find many of them living on the streets.
    Did he even have a look at the other people around him and try to find out whether they came from a different starting point to where he did? Or was this all a shallow exercise in narcissistic self-congratulation?
    Meg Thornton’s last blog post..Fic: Steele (part 3 of ?)

  8. Time for a chorus of Pulps Common People, I think!
    I said pretend you’ve got no money,
    she just laughed and said,
    “Oh you’re so funny.”
    I said “yeah?
    Well I can’t see anyone else smiling in here.
    But she didn’t understand,
    she just smiled and held my hand.
    Rent a flat above a shop,
    cut your hair and get a job.
    Smoke some fags and play some pool,
    pretend you never went to school.
    But still you’ll never get it right,
    cos when you’re laid in bed at night,
    watching roaches climb the wall,
    if you call your Dad he could stop it all.
    You’ll never live like common people,
    you’ll never do what common people do,
    you’ll never fail like common people,
    you’ll never watch your life slide out of view,
    and dance and drink and screw,
    because there’s nothing else to do.
    Pulp have the keenest sense of class of any band I know.

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